In the Shark Tank for the A Rising Tide Documentary Series

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I’ve been around sharks a few times and I’m sure it won’t ever get boring. It’s a magical moment to be near such awesome creatures. I am so grateful for the places my work has taken me and this is definitely one of the top experiences I’ve had so far.
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In the Shark Tank for the A Rising Tide Documentary Series

Excitement was at an all-time high, and for good reason.  We were about to get up close to over 40 sharks!  And some of them have large mouths full of very sharp teeth.  Full – fledged – excitement!
 
When I first pitched the idea for this documentary series to Graham Casden, the CVO of Ocean First, this was to me one of the most exciting potential episodes to film.  I’ve spent time with the sharks before while filming Ocean First Institute giving a special presentation on shark ecology, but we stayed on the dry side of the aquarium.
 
This was new for all of us; even the renowned shark scientist, Dr. Mikki McComb-Kobza of O.F.I. hadn’t been in the shark cage.
 
Before I go on, you can watch the video here:
The shark cage doesn’t require scuba certification because of the shallow depth and the special hookah-like breathing apparatus they use.  All you need to do is keep the regulator in your mouth to breath.  You don’t have to know about buoyancy or air consumption, you just step down the ladder and enjoy the show.
 
The production team did not, however, go in the cage.  We went in the tank with the sharks!
shark tank matt abraxas a rising tide

The way this works is that one diver at a time went in to the shark tank with the guide.  Graham and I alternated, each using Graham’s massive GATES housing on his Sony PMW camera.   Sharks swam all around us.

If you’ve never been in the water with a shark, knowingly that is, you most likely have experienced how mellow they are.  I’ve been in a shark feeding-frenzy which does show a different side, but most of the time, they are mellow cruisers.
 
Check out this reef shark in Grand Cayman that hung out with our group for about 30 minutes. It really just seemed like a curious canine. Far from the terror of Jaws.

An added bonus to this event was that News 4 sent out the journalist, Dillon Thomas to cover it.  Article here: Colorado Students Swim with Sharks

And, the next day, Fox 31 brought on Graham and the 3 full scholars to talk about their experience.  Sharks in Colorado aren’t a normal thing, you know.
 
The kids did great and Graham was his typical well-spoken self. It was a highlight moment for the series and exciting to see the media start to take notice.
The overall response was similar with everyone involved.  Awe and wonder.  The kids emerged with a newly realized respect and love for sharks.
 
For me, this was an ecstatic moment.  I’ve been around sharks a few times and I’m sure it won’t ever get boring.  It’s a magical moment to be near such awesome creatures.  I am so grateful for the places my work has taken me and this is definitely one of the top experiences I’ve had so far.
 
I’m grateful to the Denver Downtown Aquarium for allowing us all to experience the sharks, Mehgan Heaney-Grier, the show host, for coordinating everything, and to Graham Casden for being the executive producer to help make it all happen.
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~ Matt Abraxas
Creative Director
New Focus Films
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